Belmont & Edgware claimed a two-wicket victory in a friendly against a Berkhamsted Development XI.
With their Club Captain and Vice-Captain both unavailable, BECC looked to the future and young Elliott Mayer was appointed skipper, with experienced vice-captain Michael Blasebalk offering assistance behind the stumps.
It's a task others may have avoided with a weakened team, fielding players who haven't had much cricket and giving a new player their first cap. However, Mayer relished the chance and the team didn't let him down.
Fielding first, the openers were treated to Noam Attar and Greg Mayer who caused problems on a good wicket. However, it was only when the bowling changes happened that wickets began to fall. Jack Mendel (6-1-22-1) bowled one of his best spells and was rewarded with a plum lbw. He dealt with the slope well, with only a few drifting down the leg side.
At the other end, wily Keith Aizen (8-1-29-1) mixed up his deliveries and even spinning a few, one bowling the other opener. Following drinks Mayer decided to use the fifth bowler option bringing on both Simon "partnership-breaker" Braham (7-1-26-2) and for his first bowling spell for the club Matt Wetton. Braham caused one batsman to nick a fine edge to Blasey behind the stumps and in the same over bowled the replacement.
Wetton (3-0-21-1) was a little wayward but got his first wicket when debutant James Brilliant snaffled a nice catch at point. Mayer (8-0-34-0) and Attar (8-0-34-1) returned to the attack and helped dry up the runs with their pace and spin respectively.
Attar picked up a wicket when it spun back cutting the player in half and Blasey took the stumping. He also ensured their top scorer didn't spoil the show when he had a direct hit at the bowlers end, comfortably running him out.
There may have been a chance to take wickets earlier and finish the innings but Elliott played it safe and managed his bowlers so that the final overs weren't expensive. His field placing was spot on with the right players in the right positions. He even controlled things from the boundary after injuring a finger. He listened to players and worked with bowlers, but the final decision was his and it worked as the opposition finished with 166-7 off 40 overs.
Following the best tea of the season, including Eton mess and sorbet, father and son Phil and Elliott Mayer strode out to the centre. The skipper seemed to be wanting to get home quickly by blasting especially the second bowler to the boundary. He was bowled in the sixth over for 24 with 35 on the board. Phil was dismissed shortly after bringing Keith Aizen and Michael "Blasey" Blasebalk together in the seventh over with the score on 47-2. An interesting partnership as Aizen prefers to score in boundaries and Blasey just rotated the strike in singles.
BECC were always ahead of the run rate thanks to the start and Aizen's hit. He finally was bowled for 27 in the 13th over (74-3). Brilliant showed he had technique but was a little rusty. When he was dismissed and the score on 82-5 (18th over) Blasebalk was joined by Nick McLeod and the two increased the run rate. Their 55-run partnership in 10 overs brought BECC to 30 runs short of their target after 28 overs.
Blasebalk had steadied the innings and was eventually dismissed for 33 and McLeod followed him a few balls later for 26. At 142-6 there was need for sensible batting and get BECC over the line with 10 overs still to be bowled.
Captain Mayer had given Attar the chance to prove he could bat by sending him to join Wetton in the middle. No silly shots were played and Attar showed some nice cultured shots. Braham joined him after Wetton and Mendel were dismissed. Attar finished undefeated on 17no and scored the winning runs in the 37th over.
It was the kind of game that reminds players why they give up their Sundays. A great venue, a friendly opposition, evenly balanced sides, a match played in the right spirit, every player contributing and to top it off a victory.
Captain Elliot Mayer said: "I thoroughly enjoyed captaining BECC for the first time, it was a great team performance with contributions from everybody. Well done all!"